Thursday, July 31, 2014

RIP Idris Muhammad

Via NOLA: Idris Muhammad, legendary New Orleans drummer, is dead at 74

"Idris Muhammad, whose drumming crossed over several musical styles including funk, jazz, and rhythm and blues, died Tuesday (July 29). He was 74.

[Muhammad, born as] Leo Morris was born in New Orleans on Nov. 13, 1939. He was friends with the famed Neville family, and as Keith Spera noted in a 2007 article, helped Aaron meet his beloved wife, Joel Roux (now deceased), when the boys were "bippity-bopping" down Valence Street one day in 1957. By the time he was 16, he had played the drums for Fats Domino's 1956 hit, "Blueberry Hill," and later played with the Hawketts (led by Art Neville) on their iconic anthem, "Mardi Gras Mambo."

Writing in 2010, Spera said, "Leo Morris was mesmerized by the chants and rhythms of the Mardi Gras Indians. Years later, he moved to New York and then Europe, changed his name to Idris Muhammad and deployed those rhythms as a prolific drummer for hire.

Over five decades, he logged hundreds of recordings and thousands of performances with Sam Cooke, Jerry Butler, Roberta Flack, avant-jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, jazz funk saxophonist Lou Donaldson, guitarist Melvin Sparks, pianist Ahmad Jamal, New York tenor star Joe Lovano and many more. In recent years, Muhammad has returned to his hometown to mask Indian with saxophonist Big Chief Donald Harrison's tribe."

ADDED: Read Egon's interview with Idris Muhummad, originally published in Wax Poetics issue #1, way back in 2001.

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